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Published 30 November 2020
Following the recent enactment of the Civil Law and Criminal Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2020, the High Court has issued an updated practice direction addressing the requirements for lodging written submissions in civil proceedings. The practice direction is accessible here and has been in operation since 5 October 2020. This practice direction applies to all civil proceedings in respect of which written submissions are provided for in the Rules of the Superior Courts or other practice directions. However, it does not apply to any proceedings before the Commercial Court (other than planning/ Strategic Infrastructure Development cases) which are subject to a separate practice direction – High Court Practice Direction HC93.
The practice direction lays down updated requirements for the format and content of written submissions filed. In particular, practitioners will note the word limit of 5,000 words which applies save with leave of the Court. This is a significant reduction on the practice direction previously in operation (High Court Practice Direction HC68) which imposed an upper limit of 10,000 for written submissions. Practitioner should also note that no footnotes should be included in submissions filed. The practice direction also requires a chronology to be lodged by an Applicant which should outline all relevant facts and the procedural history to the case. This chronology is not included as part of the 5,000 word count however the practice direction emphasises that it should not be used as a mechanism to circumvent the word count. If a Respondent disputes the Applicant’s chronology, it should lodge its own chronology clearly identifying the points of dispute.
The practice direction also prescribes new requirements for the lodging of books of authority. In a departure from previous practice directions, the updated direction provides that the High Court will have its own book of authority for certain kinds of applications including injunctions, discovery, applications to dismiss for want of prosecution, applications for security for costs and the appointment of a receiver. Authorities which appear in the court’s own book of authorities should not be included in any book of authority lodged. The practice direction contains a link to the content of the court’s own book of authorities which may be accessed here. The court book of authorities contains links to the various authorities referenced as contained on the www.justis.com website. The practice direction also imposes an upper limit of 8 authorities for inclusion in a book of authorities – unless the court has directed that a higher number may be included.
Save for cases involving one or two clear issues, the practice direction also provides that parties should agree an issue paper setting out a list of the issues to be determined by the court. If the parties cannot agree on the issues to be decided, they may lodge separate issue papers setting out their view as to the issues to be decided.
Finally, the practice direction contains provision for the imposition of a costs penalty on any party which delivers submissions in breach of a deadline set by the Court. The practice direction includes a presumption that the party shall not be entitled to claim costs in relation to that submission unless that party can show why those costs should not be disallowed.
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